A JUDGE threw out the case against an alleged knifeman, calling evidence presented by the Crown “incomplete and unsafe”.

Dikson Fernandes, 20, was said by prosecutors to have pulled out a knife as two rival groups skirmished outside The Tree nightclub in Swindon’s Old Town in the early hours of July 28, 2019.

However, just hours into his trial at Swindon Crown Court yesterday it emerged that no identity parade had been carried out by police despite the club manager telling officers he had had the alleged knifeman in his sights for more than four minutes.

A lock-knife had been found behind a low wall where at least a dozen people had been sitting. And the description given by two members of staff at the club was generic: male, Asian, scruffy facial hair, either 5ft or 5ft 5ins, a short back and sides haircut, ripped blue jeans and a black jacket.

John Simmons, for Fernandes, raised concerns about the case falling foul of rules requiring an identity parade to be carried out where a witness says he can identify a suspect and that suspect disputes being the person alleged to have been seen committing the offence. No identity parade or procedure had been carried out.

The barrister, who submitted there was no case to answer, said it would be “extremely dangerous” for the jury to attempt to identify his client from unclear CCTV footage covering the front of The Tree nightclub.

Hooper's Place, with the Tree nightclub behind Picture: GOOGLE

Judge Jason Taylor QC told the lawyers: “In my judgement the identification evidence here is both poor and unsupported and the risk of injustice is such that no properly directed jury could properly convict.”

He went on to direct the jury to find the defendant not guilty, telling them: “One of your responsibilities in identity cases is to make an assessment of the evidence because experience has shown in these courts identification – even when a witness is honest – a witness can honestly be mistaken.

“As the evidence emerged today I certainly had concerns about it and I expressed those concerns to counsel after you left for lunch.

“Having heard submissions, I have taken the view that the evidence is insufficient for this case to proceed.

“Here we have a generic description of an Asian male and for reasons I am not quite clear about...there was no identification procedure.”

That lack of an identity procedure had deprived the defendant of “important safeguards”, he said.

The jury formally returned a not guilty verdict on the knife allegation. Fernandes was fined £20 for possession of cannabis, which he had admitted at an earlier hearing.

Earlier, the court heard Fernandes was said to have been outside The Tree nightclub in Hoopers Place at around 4.30am.

There were scuffles between groups of Asian and Black men, between whom there had been trouble inside the club. Fernandes had not been inside the nightclub, where a special DJ event had been held that evening.

A club manager and the head doorman claimed to have seen an Asian man – said by prosecutors to be Fernandes - acting suspiciously outside the nightclub. Both said they had seen him produce a knife before he was “jumped on” by the bouncer. He was said to have fled – together with a large number of others – around the corner to the petrol station on Newport Street, where he was apprehended. A knife was later found opposite the nightclub.

Fernandes, of Ponting Street, Broadgreen, denied being in possession of the blade.